Thursday, September 8, 2016


Hiccup is sudden, unintentional contraction of the diaphragm muscle. The diaphragm lies at the base of the lungs and is essential for normal respiration. Phrenic and vagus nerves that control the diaphragm play an important role in its function.

Excessive eating and drinking, as well as consumption of carbonated beverages may irritate the diaphragm and cause hiccups. Also sudden temperature change (i.e. hot – cold showers and hot – cold drinks) and emotional stress have been found to play a role on its onset. Hiccups can also be psychogenic or idiopathic. Some drugs (benzodiazepines, barbiturates, alpha methyldopa, etc.) may cause hiccup.

Though usually a mild self-limited disorder, hiccup may be persistent and related to serious underlying illness such as neoplasms, congenital malformations, multiple sclerosis, vascular lesions, hyponatremia, hypocapnia, hypokalemia, hyperglycemia, uremia, goiter, hepatitis, cholecystitis, pneumonia, aneurysm, peptic ulcer, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, glaucoma and hernia. Should hiccups become persistent, medical evaluation is mandatory.

Simple remedies for the cure of hiccups of benign origin:

1. Hold your breath

2. Pull your knees up to chest and lean forward

3. Bite a lemon

4. Drink a glass of ice-cold water

5. Eat a teaspoon of dry granular sugar

6. Avoid emotional stress and think of something pleasant

7. Relax and repeat in ten minutes.

Modern medicine provides a number of effective drugs to treat hiccups.


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In this article, there is a selection of questions and answers concerning fatigue and weakness. These questions were asked and answered in interviews I have given to Greek newspapers (ΒΗΜΑ, ΠΑΡΟΝ, ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ etc) and TV stations (ALPHA, ATHENS TV, ΚΑΝΑΛΙ 10, SKY, ALTER etc).

1. What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

This syndrome consists of severe fatigue symptoms lasting more than six months. This fatigue affects both physical and mental functioning.

2. How is chronic fatigue distinguished from common weakness?

Chronic fatigue is persistent or relapsing whereas common weakness lasts for less than a week. Simple measures, such as sleep and healthy diet, are often sufficient, in case of common weakness.

3. What causes chronic fatigue?

The chronic fatigue syndrome could be associated with the following:

• Alcohol abuse

• Insomnia

• Drugs such as benzodiazepines

• Over-fatigue

• Menopause

• Malnutrition

• Anemia

• Hypotension

• B12 deficiency

• Infectious diseases

• Biochemical disturbances

• Cardiovascular diseases

• Endocrine disorders

• Thyroid disease

• Autoimmune disorders

• Sleep apnea

• Depression

• Psychosis

• Anorexia nervosa

This type is called secondary chronic fatigue syndrome.

For idiopathic syndromes, no specific cause can be found.

If four or more of the following criteria are present for more than six months, the syndrome is called idiopathic chronic fatigue syndrome:

• Impaired memory or concentration unrelated to drugs or alcohol use

• Unexplained muscle pain

• Polyarthralgia

• Sleep disturbances

• Post exertional malaise lasting over 24 hours

• Sore throat not caused by infection

• Tender cervical or axillary nodes.

If these criteria are not fully met, then the disease is called idiopathic chronic fatigue. Idiopathic syndromes come with a variety of implications such as immunologic disturbances, neurologic disturbances, abnormal gene expression and psychological disturbances.

4. What is the treatment?

Patients with secondary chronic fatigue syndrome have a secondary correctable or specifically treatable cause. Special treatment is the cornerstone of therapy.

In case of idiopathic syndromes, treatment includes exercise programmes, cognitive therapy and special drugs.


• Office: 10 Fragopoulou Str. 14561, Kifissia

• Tel./Fax: +30 210 6252770

• Hospitalization - emergencies: +30 6945575287


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Thursday, April 29, 2010


This article is intended for a limited readership of healthcare professionals and practitioners.

Efforts to suppress the spread of the 2009 H1N1influenza strand have been mostly centered on massive vaccination regimes, involving the general population. These practices encouraged by WHO, have however found limited public response. The clinical experience gained from two consecutive winter seasons in the Southern (mainly Australia) and the Northern hemisphere right after the rapid outbreak of 2009, which were expected to favor the worldwide spread of the disease, have so far supported the aforementioned reluctance of the public. Although the publicity gained by the media may be partially blamed for the hasty mass vaccination decision, the lack of accumulated solid scientific knowledge and experience seems to be the main reason why the medical community under the burden of the wide spread fear for possible repercussions, resorted in this solution.

Influenza vaccines are frequently ineffective. At present, this is a major obstacle to an effective practical immunization procedure and one of the reasons why influenza vaccination traditionally is offered only to high-risk populations. Even traditional influenza vaccination policy, that in most developed countries attempts to reduce the mortality of persons over 65 years of age, is under dispute (SIMONSEN AND AL LANCET INFECT DIS. Oct 7(10), 2007, 658-66).

Furthermore, despite the fact that many people have been admitted to ICUS or died of H1N1 all over the world, the proportion of deaths from H1N1 does not differ from this of classic seasonal influenza, as becomes obvious in countries where the winter epidemic stroke has been sufficiently studied (figure 1), and in daily clinical practice. In clinical trials, concerning the profile of seriously ill patients, these in general, had at least one underlying medical problem including asthma, diabetes, heart/lung/ neurologic disease, obesity (mean BMI greater than 30) pregnancy (70-93%), or there was a long interval from onset of symptoms to treatment with antiviral therapy (48 hours, or longer).

Figure 1: Percentage of all deaths classified as influenza and pneumonia, in Australia

WA Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1 January , 2008 to 23 August 2009 WA ‘Virus Watch’ Report. Accessed December 30, 2009.

As H1N1 risks and immunization benefits have been overestimated, it seems prudent to vaccinate only high risk groups.
Department of Internal Medicine, Athens Medical Center, Greece  

• Office: 10 Fragopoulou Str. 14561, Kifissia 

• Tel./Fax: +30 210 6252770 

• Hospitalization - emergencies: +30 6945575287

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A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA 1999; 282:137-144. 

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15. TRANG VU ET AL A meta-analysis of effectiveness of influenza vaccine in persons aged 65 years and over living in the community. VACCINE Volume 20, Issues 13-14, 15 March 2002, Pages 1831-1836.

16. DEMICHELI V ET AL Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. COCHRANE DATABASE SYST REV 2004 ;(3):CD001269. 

17. FEDSON DS ET AL Influenzae vaccination in 22 developed countries : an update to 1995. VACCINE 1997 ; 15 (14) 1506-11. 
18. CAROLYN BUXTON BRIDGES ET AL Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit of Influenza Vaccination of Healthy Working Adults A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA 2000;284:1655-1663.

19. Percentage of all deaths classified as influenza and pneumonia, WA Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1 January, 2008 to 23 August 2009. Accessed December 30, 2009.

20. 2009 H1N1 Flu,, Accessed April 29, 2010. 

21. Εμβόλιο γρίπης πανδημικό εμβόλιο νέας γρίπης και αποτελεσματική πρόληψη σοβαρών επιπλοκών κατά τη μαχόμενη ιατρική πράξη: Μια αμφιλεγόμενη σχέση. Accessed December 15, 2009.